An Amazing DIY at Home Task Website

Posted by JenniferG | Posted in Blog Review | Posted on 18-06-2013

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At Make:, it’s up to users to fill in the blank after the colon. However, for DIY newbies, there’s plenty of direction to get started. People can do almost anything for themselves with the right tools, ambition and direction. With all the DIY websites available, Make: makes things simple and features projects that aren’t just easy, but have stunning results. To get started, consider the hot topics like arduino, 3D printing, raspberry pi or maker pro.
The layout of Make: is beautiful and user-friendly. The nav bar features the blog, magazine, projects, reviews and a place to shop. There are plenty of photos and videos to get started, and it’s clearly that the people behind Make: subscribe to the latest email marketing tactics–which benefits the user. What makes Make: so special?

LEGO Binary Clock: Easy
For those who relate all too well to the cast of “The Big Bang Theory,” this LEGO binary clock is essential. It doesn’t require many tools, and the video instructional guide is a breeze. The genius behind this clock also offers up an M&M sorter and beer opening machine, and now fans can check the time in between their candy and beer chugging fests.

The LEGO clock is just one example of an easy DIY project on Make: Everything is clearly labeled easy, moderate or difficult and there’s an estimated time to completion so people can plan their projects well. Sort by easy tasks, and there are many that are kid-friendly, too. The easier the task, the less time necessary.

The Flying iPhone: Moderate
Apple users might not realize that their iPhone can collect data while whizzing through the air. This self-made rocket is considered a moderate project and it keeps the smartphone safe. Don’t worry–there’s a parachute for safety and the video instruction makes putting together this experiment not too difficult. However, just to be safe, people may want to start with an old backup phone.
Moderate activities can also be family friendly. Some of the projects are for sheer curiosity, such as the rocketing iPhone, while others can truly make lives better.

Tesla Coil: Difficult
Can’t afford a Tesla? Anyone can afford to make the six-pack Tesla coil because it’s virtually a lightning storm indoors. It’s also a great teaching tool, and utilizes the same technology as Tesla does to make electric cars. However, it’s rated as difficult, so people may want to start with easier projects.
Make: also sells kits to make projects even easier. There’s no rushing out to the store for supplies. Check out the reviews and rating systems before starting any project, and rest assured there’s always plenty of help available from fellow DIYers. Make: is more than a site for DIY, it’s a community.

scholarpro.com

Posted by J.M.Bowen | Posted in Business, Education, Internet | Posted on 25-06-2012

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scholarpro.com is a site to help you discover scholarships then manage your applications. It is US based and only really works for current residents of the US, and not for those interested in moving to study. For US students, parents or people considering returning to study, it is a brilliant site that matches you with scholarships based on a range of personal information. The more information you choose to give, the more matches it will find for you.

How it works: it’s super easy to sign up for an account, then you answer a large range of questions, including whether you’re a student, parent or ‘other’, where you’re currently studying, what level of study you’ve accomplished, where your home school and university was, and the dates of your graduation. There are also the useful questions of what you want to major in and what career you picture yourself ending up in. That’s the obvious stuff. Then there are many more personal questions like, what are you military affiliations? What is your religion? What is your race? Your ethnicity? Your country of birth? Your gender? Your religion?

All the forms work with drop-down boxes, so if the option isn’t there, you can’t enter it. In most cases there are PLENTY of options, however there were a few I thought odd. For example, “Have you played a sport?” While they list paint-balling and “weight conditioning” as sports, they left out Ultimate Frisbee – in America! The ones who came up with it! I also couldn’t find ping-pong…

After you fill out all these questions, you’ve given a pretty complete picture of yourself! You’re then given your matches.

The whole process takes around five minutes, even if you answer most of the questions. You can then get a huge number of options. Even as a non-resident I got two matches for things I could genuinely apply to. I was pretty impressed.

Once you find one you like, you can add it to your applications. The applicatiosn screen tells you when the deadline is, how you need to apply (whether through them or on the home website, for which they provide a link) and give a tracking option.

For the free users, the site finds and manages scholarship applications, but doesn’t submit them. For a once off yearly fee of $30 you can submit an unlimited number of applications directly from the website, which will store your transcript on their system and save you the cost of postage. If you’re planning on making any serious applications, then it’s probably cheaper to do it through ScholarPRO, as the ordering of your transcript comes under the subscription, and then you don’t need to worry about having physical copies to post out.

This is a seriously well thought out website, and so easy and fast to use. I highly recommend it.

Check it out:

www.scholarpro.com

walkme.com

Posted by J.M.Bowen | Posted in Business, Internet | Posted on 22-06-2012

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walkme.com is a plugin for other websites that lets website owners and creators design a guided tour of their website. If you feel your website is complicated to use and receive feedback confirming this, then Walk Me is a great option to quickly, and cheaply, sort out that problem.

The  walk-through is a simple set of chat boxes that move you around the page to point out different features. The guide follows you through page changes and lets users interact with the site as they normally would, without losing the little blue chat box guide.

The sites own Walk Me demonstrates how the walk-through works then takes you to their free sign up form, and the only option to continue the tour is to enter your email and sign up. This is a clever killing of two birds with one blue balloon, as it shows us how Walk Me lets you point users towards clicking on important tabs, such as the “Free Sign Up”.

The site has a huge amount of information to explain itself, and emphasises how easy it is to set up on your website, and how website owners/creators need little technical know-how to be able to use the program. And if you do struggle, there are a heap of demo videos to help.

The program has many features that let you customise the walk-through functions on your site. You can make it start automatically or leave it as optional, or you can greet your users with an initial screen.

Personally I would be annoyed by an automatic walk-through screen upon first entering the site. I think it’s safer to keep it as a nice, obvious option for those who prefer being lead through things, while still assuming that most of your users are reasonably web-savvy. On the other hand, I know my mother would love this function, and would not mind being clearly told about it.

The free plan gives you enough features to test the program properly, and there are options for small to large corporate websites.

Check it out:

www.walkme.com

breezi.com

Posted by J.M.Bowen | Posted in Business, Internet | Posted on 20-06-2012

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breezi.com is an all in one online program that lets you build, edit and launch websites. It aims itself at designers, but could be used by anyone with a bit of techno-know-how or just a lot of patience to play around until you work it out.

How it works? The site uses WSYWG for the technical aspects, but has merged this with a very user-friendly system that gives you access to all editing functions from a single page. When you hover over the elements you want to change, the options will appear. You are, naturally, limited to the various options available, but there are plenty there – more than enough to create something workable and unique. The site has also added many extra features, like social buttons, photo albums, online tutorials and forms that you can drag and drop to insert.

You bring your own domain to Breezi, however they host your website, and you can manage it through Breezi when your new website has gone live. There is no limit on the number of pages you can have, and your templates are stored to make creating pages faster as you go.  Their program allows for other analytics sites to be pasted in, to let you know your traffic etc, and they also offer inbuilt SEO.

Overall: Breezi are doing nothing new, but they’re combining all the elements for creating effective and attractive websites that you can build, maintain and develop all in the one place. The beauty of this is that you don’t have to learn how to manage and use a huge range of different systems to do everything related to your website.

And at the moment, since the site has just launched, it’s free to sign up and try it out (until June 30). They haven’t disclosed future costs, but their “test drive” function lets you play before you commit, so why not?

Check it out:

breezi.com

boxfish.com

Posted by J.M.Bowen | Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Internet, Social Media | Posted on 18-06-2012

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boxfish.com calls itself “TV’s information engine”, and functions as a TV specific search engine. The aim of this engine is to give users information on where certain topics in the news are being covered and what is being said, so they can stay updated on their areas of interest. For example, currently trending topics are things like “immigration”, “Tiger Woods”, “Obama”, “Greece” and “Miami heat”.

What’s the aim? Boxfish has launched its Beta version aimed at “transforming television from a passive enterteinment [sic] medium into a truly dynamic source of real-time information.” It’s unclear how the real-time aspect functions, but it does seem to be refreshed regularly to keep users up-to-date on current events and topics. Following any keyword or phrase search, results are shown like in a standard search engine, from which users can explore further.  However, the links from the search results lead you to the transcripts of the shows. This is interesting as it takes the highly visual medium of TV and distills it into text. This is no doubt what makes the search possible, but it also presents the information quite differently. For people looking for specific quotes or information, it’s a fast way to finding them in text form.

I can see how this site would be useful for researchers, media students and journalists, however I’m yet to see how it would appeal to an average TV watcher.  It could really increase its appeal by offering links to an online platform where the shows can be watched in their original form, as well as the text option.

Overall: it will be interesting to keep an eye on this site to see if it appeals to a wider audience, and how it develops itself. For the moment, it is useful for anyone trawling the news for specific topics.

Check it out:

beta.boxfish.com

thestarvingartist.com

Posted by J.M.Bowen | Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Business, Photography, Shopping | Posted on 15-06-2012

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thestarvingartist.com is a site for any artist, anywhere, to display and sell their work to any audience with access to the internet.

About the Site: the site’s creator, Bruce Krinsky, aims to provide a middle ground between inexpensive prints of artwork and the expensive original art available to the public in any given area. By removing geographical boundaries, he has opened up artists from around the world to buyers anywhere in the world. This format also means that a huge range of art can be shown, as well as a diverse range of mediums, styles and levels. You can navigate the offerings via medium and sub-medium, price and popularity.

TheStarvingArtist offers completely free accounts, and there is no filtering process, no exclusion. The site promotes its artists through the content it is given, such as photos of your work and any content you create to accompany your work. The website charges “a small commission” but only when art is sold. This is to be expected, however it would be useful to know upfront the commission percentage.

As the prices are set by the artists, there’s a lot of variation here too, and there is great potential to pick up something original, interesting and excellent for a very reasonable price.

The site functions as the middle-man, and accepts no liability for work that is damaged while being shipped. This whole process is the responsibility of the artist. However, if the artist doesn’t ship the product or takes too long about it, the payment will be automatically refunded.  The site offers a US based customer helpline for any issues.

Overall: while this website is doing much the same thing as many others, it’s doing it well. The range of different kinds of art makes it a lot of fun to look through – you really don’t know what you’ll find here.

Check it out:

thestarvingartist.com

hashpix.com

Posted by J.M.Bowen | Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Cool Products, Photography, Shopping, Social Media | Posted on 13-06-2012

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hashpix.com is a marketplace to buy and sell the most popular images on Instagram. The images you buy are printed on quality digital printing paper then posted to you, to be framed however you like.

What’s new about it? Though it’s a separate website from Instagram, Hashpix sources its content solely from Instagram. It means that keen Instagram photographers who have a large following can start making money from their images, and fans can decorate their own, real space and not just their computer screens with their favourite images.

How do you sell? You need to be an established Instagram photographer with an engaged following. It’s free to apply to be featured on Hashpix, but the site doesn’t guarantee you’ll get in, and judges applicants according to how large and active your fan base is, and whether you’re active on social media (basically, they want to be sure your images will sell!).

Output: for buyers, you can browse the site according to the top photographers and view their current collection online. If you choose to buy an image, you have the option of three sizes: 5”x5”, 8”x10”, and 10”x10”. Hashpix prints using a Lustre finish, which is in the middle of Matte and Glossy finishes – you get a nice shine, but not too much reflection. The prices for these are $20, $22 and $24 from the five inch prints to the 10 inch ones. These don’t end up being large prints, but they’d look great if you arranged a collection of them on your wall with some nice simple framing. At the price you’re paying, you can afford to get a little creative with what you do with them. It could be good to have some larger options, but I suspect the output is limited by the quality of the photographs.

The only drawback from me is that, well, it’s all just Instagram shots. What about all the photographers our there really working on their craft, using more than an Iphone or Smartphone? However, aside from that personal bias, this site is a great way to turn your Instagram following into some actual artistic funding, and for fans to get well-priced physical copies of your work.

Check it out:

hashpix.com

coupflip.com

Posted by J.M.Bowen | Posted in Business, Internet, Lifestyle, Recreation & Hobbies, Shopping | Posted on 11-06-2012

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coupflip.com is the place to sell your unwanted discount vouchers or hunt down a deal that you originally missed, or simply browse for deals. It’s a brilliant solution to the problem of impulse buying vouchers on Groupon or Living Social that you then don’t have time to use or don’t want to use – with CoupFlip you can actually get most of your money back!

How It Works: the site says it will instantly buy all valid vouchers. It doesn’t say anything about what geographical locations it accepts, but any from around America should be accepted. Currently the only searchable cities are Boston and “National”, which is a bit disappointing. They say more cities are coming soon, and I’d hope so. Since they give no restrictions on where they’ll buy from, if you have unwanted vouchers you might as well give it a go!

For buyers, the site is another place you can browse for deals. The site checks all vouchers to try to make sure they’re still valid, and guarantees a refund if the voucher is invalid or has been used. Just remember to make that claim within 25 days of purchase. As most vouchers are transferable, it doesn’t matter if there’s another person’s name on it, you can still use it.

It’s free to buy and sell vouchers through CoupFlip. The question is, how much mark-up the site puts on them.

Overall: the innovation of this site is to offer a way to pass on excess vouchers. Hopefully it finds enough buyers for the vouchers to support itself, because it’s a great tool!

Check it out:

www.coupflip.com

sparkhire.com

Posted by J.M.Bowen | Posted in Business, Internet | Posted on 08-06-2012

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sparkhire.com has created a one-stop online space for jobseekers and employers to find what they’re looking for, as easily as possible.

What does SparkHire bring to the table? While video resumes are nothing new, SparkHire is ‘utilizing’ (one of the site’s favourite buzzwords) video resumes and communication as part of a wider system which integrates all stages of the job hunting process, as well as making the interview process a whole lot easier for employers. Employers can interview potential employees through face to face video, or by sending a series of questions to a selection of applicants, who then tape their answers. The recruiters can watch these videos on their own time, in their office, or at home in their track-pants. If employers are willing to work online using video, they could really cut down the time it takes to get through those stacks of applications.

For jobseekers, the site lists jobs available, as well as detailed profiles of the companies, job alerts for suitable positions, plus a customisable favourites list and a personal link to your online resume. And, of course, your own profile, which includes a standard written CV as well as a profile video, which is your big 60 seconds to sell yourself.

If you are invited to answer some interview questions, you can prep your answers before you tape them – that’s one big advantage to answering those questions on the fly, like in face to face situations. Those face to face situations will still occur, but at least you can pull a plug if you panic, then plead a bad internet connection. Until they’ve heard that one a few too many times.

Overall: this is a really well-designed and comprehensive site. I’m not sure how it makes its money – I imagine recruiters would pay a fee if they end up hiring from the site – yet it seems to be free for jobseekers.

Check it out:

www.sparkhire.com

**Update**

Having signed up and played around, it’s a very easy to use site, and the information it gives you on the businesses you may want to apply for is impressive. Disappointingly, it’s limited to the US, and even for places like New York there aren’t many jobs posted. It’s a pity, as I think they could really benefit from an international focus.

wevideo.com

Posted by J.M.Bowen | Posted in Apps, Arts & Entertainment, Business, Internet, Social Media | Posted on 06-06-2012

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wevideo.com lets you collectively edit videos in a shared online workplace. The program functions in the cloud, where you can upload footages then create projects and edit it, all online, inviting other people into the online team.

What’s unique about it? Well, it’s a great development on the concept of a shared online workspace, and streamlines the process accessing, storing and working with video files. This could be useful in a wide range of industries, from using it just to create fun video’s with friends, to up-to-date marketing, to creating company training videos on the go, or making the best travel vlog ever!

Videos made using WeVideo can be exported to the any existing online video hosting platform or existing distribution platforms. Videos can be edited on Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems, as well as on mobile devices. The site also caters for a range of different video formats to be uploaded. The output can either be to social media, private video hosting, or shared with Smart TVs etc.

There can be different levels of input from team members, ranging from “Administrators” to “Contributors”. In the middle come “Editors” and “Reviews”. Each access level allows for different input, and this four-tiered system means you can be quite specific about how you incorporate people into the creative process. Administrators can access everything and control the user rights of others. Editors have full access to the media files, and to the input from Reviews and Collaborators. Reviewers are limited to commenting on the media, and Contributors upload content from their devices, which means they can either be part of the team/company or outside it.

All this can, of course, be done from anywhere in the world – though you’ll want a pretty fast internet connection.

Another feature is the range of music that you have pre-approved access to. Even on the basic plans, you can chose from 390 licensed music titles as backing for your clips – not a bad number.

Costs: Depending on the access you want, you can sign up for different packages. The free package gives you 1GB of storage, lower quality image output, and a limited number of collaborators and exports, and the resulting video is watermarked.

For $6.99 per month the package jumps up to 10GB storage, better res videos, more exports, no watermarks and a few other features.

From here, we really jump up a price range to $39 per month and $79 per month. These are for the serious users who want HD output and a LOT of uploads.

What are the videos like? From the quality of their advertisement videos and their Inspiration videos, it looks like the editing program is a little basic. What I really noticed what the choppiness of the shifts from shot to shot. Another key question would  be, what resolution are those introductory videos exported in? Their self-made ads look great, but they’re probably the highest quality on offer.

Overall: it’s a brilliant idea, and the results shown on the website are impressive. It’s definitely worth a look at for anyone looking for tools to create decent videos on the go.

Check it out:

www.wevideo.com